Author Archives: Jack

Ha Long has this been going on?

Once again the back and forthing, the “maybe this” or “how about that?” even the “should we go or should we stay?” was driving us crazy. There were so many companies and combinations of packages that finally we just threw ourselves on the mercy of the concierge at our hotel thinking they really didn’t want guests coming back pissed off from a bad experience.

Two days and one night on a sixteen cabin bay steamer. It’s really the only way to appreciate this UNESCO World Heritage site, but they aren’t giving these berths away and we’ll lose two precious days in Hanoi. It was a tough decision because let’s face it, we spend every night sleeping on a boat and we’ve seen a few islands in over 30,000 nm of sailing.

The morning of the tour we were contemplating a second leisurely run through our hotel’s buffet breakfast when the concierge came up to our table and informed us that instead of an 8:30 pickup they will be here in 15 minutes! They weren’t but it was a close thing. We were the first pickup so our little bus trundled a circuitous route through downtown Hanoi for nearly an hour to stop at half dozen other hotels to collect the rest of our fellow passengers, mostly young couples.

Unfortunately it was a gray day so not much to look at as we drove out of town and we were informed that we would be making a comfort stop in two hours. When we finally pulled off the road at a rest area I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that in reality it was a massive souvenir shop and we were to make our way through the gift gauntlet to meet our bus on the other side. Immediately we were overwhelmed by massive sculptures and giant polished mineral boulders. Our personal sales associate, noticing our astonishment, leaned in and assured us in a conspiratorial tone, “We ship anywhere in the world!”

By the time we waded through acres and acres of every kind of Vietnamese souvenir we found the checkout counters and that’s when Marce discovered a large display of Pepperidge Farm products. It had been awhile. I guess by the time you get to checkout without your own personal mineral boulder you are not considered a high roller but they’ve just got to get something out of you…and they did. Cheddar Goldfish crackers at 187,000 dong ($8/bag.)

We piled into the little bus and another two hours later disgorged into the ship’s launch which took us and our luggage out to our boat and a sun-dappled lunch. Our room had classic louvered doors, an en suite bathroom and a tiny private balcony. It looked a proper bay steamer stateroom. Soon we were underway, navigating around small islands shaped like gigantic dragon teeth as far as the eye can see.

Of course the Vietnamese have creation myths about how Ha Long Bay was made, naturally involving gigantic dragons descending into the bay and something about swirling its tail making at last count well over 3000 limestone islands. The Bay encompasses 1,500 sq. km. so in two days there’s only so much of it you’re going to see.  

A few hours later we anchored in the lee of a shapely spike of limestone and were shuttled by launch to a small fishing village for a bit of kayaking and a visit to a pearl farm.

Back aboard our boat we were ready for a beautiful sunset but as the sun sank lower a misty fog moved in and only a glass of wine could console us.

Dinner was abundant and well presented, with extra sides for Marce and the other vegetarians. While we were the oldest couple on the boat, as we usually are these days, we seemed to be accepted and included. We passed on Asia’s obsession with karaoke, our scheduled nighttime entertainment, and retired to our cabin and our Pepperidge Farm goldfish.

In the morning we steamed for an hour or so in the rain to another island and while the rest of the guests visited a cave, M and I stayed onboard to appreciate the scenery in peace and quiet while we could.

For the rest of the morning we motored back through the islands to the harbour in increasingly bleak weather. Towards the end the kitchen staff gave a cooking demonstration and the guests learned how to make spring rolls which became part of our lunch. And just like that we were at anchor, piled into the launch and into a bus for the 4-1/2 hour ride to Hanoi.

Back at the hotel the concierge eagerly awaited the verdict. Thoroughly enjoyable, we assured him.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Way to Hue

I don’t know about you but I honestly haven’t a clue what made us suddenly veer across the street and book a ride over the Hai Van pass. This has been the subject of numerous discussions, and there are literally hundreds of tiny tour vendor booths in Hoi An and I guess we’d had enough of “on the other hand” and “but this one’s 23,000 dong cheaper,” which turns out to be about one USD less. It’s a matter of trust because you have to ride over the pass in a private car. Even the two seemingly disembodied legs sticking out from under the counter at the the tour booth didn’t deter us. Will our driver speak English? A little, which in Vietnamese speak means not at all.

Ok, what’s for dinner?

The next morning, feeling fat and lethargic after taking full advantage of the free full breakfast buffet, we had time to go over the free brochure provided and it turns out they’ve thrown in a free stop at a venue called Marble Mountain, which in fact is five mountain peaks so I guess the other four are also free. Our car arrived on time and whisked us off towards The Marvelous Marble Mountains. On arrival we were encouraged to enter through the marvelous Marble Mountains souvenir and carved marble statuary shop. The sculptures were massive, and any of them could sink Escape Velocity.

Luckily our assigned sales associate kept us in close proximity in case we forgot what we were there for. She gave a constant stream of helpful hints like, “We ship anywhere in the world!”

The good news at the mountain is that instead of a typical thousand-step staircase to reach the caves, all one has to do is push button number six in the not so free elevator provided and sure as Bob’s your uncle, there you are.

A short stroll along the cliff side led to, wait for it, 176 steps to access the actual caves.

In this part of the world China is king but really, how many dragons can you marvel at without losing your mind? Yours Truly has a finite limit and I suppose that goes for Buddhas, lying or otherwise, pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the whole entourage. It’s amusing to watch the multitudes line up under shafts of sunlight filtering down through holes in the ceiling only to strike a beatific pose bathed in its holy light.

So where was I?

Ah caves, and this one has an interesting history. It turns out the North Vietnamese used these caves as a hideout and hospital holding many hundreds of soldiers, right under the noses and within earshot of an American air base outside of Da Nang. Of course back then there was no number six button on an elevator. Ropes and rock climbing got them up into the caves and local partisans kept them resupplied.

On the way back down we successfully avoided the Marvelous Marble Mountains souvenir and carved marble sculpture shops’ aggressive sales people and, back in the car, conversation was muted due to the fact that only two of us understood any English.

Suddenly the driver’s navigation gear, which heretofore had been largely silent, piped up in what sounded a lot to Marce like heavily accented English. What it said, I couldn’t tell you but it seemed to be repeating the same phrase. Marce’s best guess was “Ess. Key. Car. Islam. eWreck. Ted.” I thought it was just Vietnamese for “Turn left here.”

We’re off to the Hai Van Pass. At 4,000 feet it’s said to have the most spectacular view in all of Vietnam and it’s why you take a private car to Hué instead of the bus at one fifth the price, which goes through a tunnel at sea level. We’ve been looking forward to this all week.

(Oops, there it is again. “Ess. Key. Car. Islam. eWreck. Ted.” Now it’s repeating every two minutes.)

Whoa, what a great view! We ask the driver to pull over for a photo op which takes a while due to language problems.

The higher we go up the mountain the more misty it gets. Back in the car it’s “Ess. Key. Car. Islam. eWreck. Ted.” with increasing frequency. Finally we summit in the clouds in a chilly mist with a view of fifty feet.

On foot we continue to climb and stumble onto a machine gun pillbox which I thought was a nice touch to crown the top of the mountain.

We declined a suggested trip through the mountaintop souvenir shop so there was nothing to it but to start down the other side. 


“Ess. Key. Car. Islam. eWreck. Ted.”

Soon we began to snicker trying to come up with better possibilities. After a while our driver noticed our laughter and reached up to the nav unit and popped out a tiny micro SD chip. Marce took one look and said, “Aha! SD card is not detected!” Mystery solved, but despite the driver’s frequent attempts to shut the damn thing up, that was our soundtrack for the next 3-1/2 hours, until we reached Hué.

“SD card is not detected.”

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Symphonie Indochine 

On paper it looked easy peasy. The goal was to decamp Saigon, grab a ride to the Saigon airport, fly to Da Nang Airport, grab a ride into Hoi An, check in and be comfortably ensconced, feet up, ready for the start of the Baku Formula 1 Grand Prix on Fox Sports. Of course we all know that paper will sit still for anything.

The Grab ride went off without a hitch, always a first class car with good air conditioning. Upon opening the glass airport doors the vibe was chaos. Screaming toddlers in various stages of despair clogged the aisles and I made a quick prayer to the flying gods that the whole lot of them aren’t going to Da Nang. We were flying Vietnam Airlines and after fighting our way to a departure monitor we found our flight to be one of the few that were still listed as “on time.” With a heavy sigh of relief we had two hours to wait, but first let’s find an area free of mama’s little helpers. Oops! I stood up and several rug rats scampered into my seat. 

While having a bit of a nosh, Marce thought she heard something about a flight to Da Nang. Sure enough, checking the departure monitor we found a short delay. In Vietnam there’s no such thing as a short delay, especially on Vietnam Airlines whose speciality seems to be confusion. Whoa, that was a nasty half gainer into a full face plant for the screaming little duffer. Yes the feet you failed to notice were mine. Doesn’t anyone own you? I noticed our gate no longer listed our Da Nang flight. Now he’s pointing Yours Truly out to his mother.

We waited in several long lines only to be kicked out at the last minute and told to wait over there. The monitor over our gate never changed but our circumstances continued to evolve. Now he’s shooting me with a transformer action figure. Frustrated fellow flyers started to ask me what happened to our flight as the delays began to stack up. Squeak squeak squeak, my god the little angel has shoes that light up and squeak with every halting step. Is this necessary?

Our two hour cushion evaporated into deficit and while hope springs eternal I began to make peace with not seeing the Grand Prix. We moved a good distance from what we thought was our gate due to screaming seemingly unsupervised little darlings running roughshod over the airport. A message flashed on the departure screen stating that there may be delays due to the lateness of our plane’s arrival.

Here’s another little screamer but this one is dressed up like a crying lady bug with antenna sticking out of its head. The time continued to slip until we noticed our gate had been changed. Finally our plane arrived and we lined up for a jam-packed nuts-to-butts bus ride out to where they’d parked it. I couldn’t help but check the time every few minutes. 

When we landed in Da Nang I think we made it clear to our Grab driver that we were in a hurry to get to Hoi An. The traffic was bad but he did his best, tapping out a more or less constant staccato rhythm with the horn button, but then so was everyone else, which blended into a caucalphony of noise that we’ve learned is the soundtrack of Vietnam.

We did make it for the last half of the Grand Prix. For this weary traveler, Hoi An will have to wait until tomorrow.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Time to pay the piper

The closer we came back to Rebak Island the closer we got to a date with the hardstand and days of bunny suits, sanding, eating the dust of our three year old bottom paint mixed with the hard shell remains of several thousand barnacles who chose to hitchhike with us on EV rather than drift aimlessly about the ocean. On the flight back we flew at a very low altitude directly over Escape Velocity gently tugging at her lines. We looked at each other and mumbled “she swims” which I imagine every relived boat owner says after being away from his vessel.

I’d like to say that we hit the ground running but I can’t. 

First we have the Grand Quest. 

I don’t know how I could have left the US with just one set of power tools. No one mentioned this to me. Magazines, conversation, or books…no one. Heartsick at having to strip painfully down to an inadequate collection of 120v tools, I find that the rest of the world does just fine with 240v power tools. So what I’m hearing is that I need two sets of power tools. Now, for normal occasional use I simply use our 120v inverter and Bob’s your uncle. But sanding all day every day is not going to happen on a solar-powered boat. On the hard in 240v land we can’t plug in to the yard’s juice and we can’t run our generator when we’re out of the water, so it’s up to the sun. I had the yard run a 240v line for a sander and a small rented window air conditioner but we still didn’t have a proper 240v random orbiting sander. After searching at every local hardware store we eventually found a heavy duty sander at a Chinese shop in Kuah. 

First up was a complete redesign of EV’s raw water cooling system with dedicated thru- hulls instead of trying to suck cooling water up through the clog-prone sail drives. I added strainers just after the raw water pumps to trap any rubber bits in case of a disintegrating impeller, kind of a suspenders and belt solution.

Every skipper, when passing EV said, “Hey! She looks really good for being out three years!” Maybe so but we’d promised ourselves a slippery bottom this time. I have to agree that she did look pretty good. No blisters, no flaking paint, no glaring problems. Ah, dreams.

Our hot tip on attempting to use stripper to remove the heavy coats of antifouling paint involved multiple layers of plastic wrap in an attempt to keep the goop from drying out. When it failed a fair test, we switched to exhaustive scraping with chisels kept razor sharp by Yours Truly. 

In a few days I threw in the towel. No mas! 

In full bunny suit, goggles, and a better than average mask, I started grinding with our new heavy duty 240v sander. I find the trick here is to go to your happy place and stay there until it’s over. What’s the worst that could happen?

Monkeys, that’s what. Monkeys rifling through the garbage at the end of the dock? No, that’s kind of cute. The rascals send one of the bigger fellas dumpster diving and every so often he’d pop up and hand off something deemed good enough. After a thorough investigation he’d jump out of the can neglecting to close the lid, with something I suspect he’d been holding out on the troop for his own stash, like a couple of rotten bananas I threw out that morning. 

We’ve come upon this same troop walking on Rebak and they can get a little aggressive if they perceive a threat to all the cute wee ones scurrying about the path and in low hanging branches. After all it’s their jungle. 

What I’m talking about is a large long tailed Macaque sitting in our cockpit munching on one of our onions like an apple, staring at us through our glass door while we’re eating dinner. When I looked up, our eyes met and he bared his large yellow fangs. Gulp! A quick inventory of my weapon stash flashed through my mind. No, he has our water hose out there. A carved Marquesan war club?…too short. A Vanuatan hollow stick drum?…it’s just wrong. Food prep knives?…way too short. Flare pistol?…no need to burn the joint down. No, this is a job for Yours Truly who will announce his presence with authority.

Upon opening the door I was met with an unholy howl and a lunge in my general direction. I’m happy to report no blood was spilled, discounting any bruises and contusions due to the retreat and premature closing of the cabin door. Let’s agree to call our first skirmish a draw in place. Now, I won’t pretend to know anything about monkey psychology but I am a keen observer of animal behavior and I’d say our friend here, after finishing his onion, is overwhelmed with ennui or maybe he’s just looking for some action but I was sure I detected a small movement toward the ladder. That’s when I struck. I opened the door a crack and screamed something abusive. It may have involved his mother. That last bit seemed to work and our Humble Skipper courageously leaped out into the cockpit to take possession. The bugger did turn around indignantly when he mounted the ladder as if to burn my face into his memory. Chilling.

Now that I am known as the Monkey King I wonder if I can teach the troop to sand?

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Putting the egg back together 

The thing about brutally murdering one out of every four of your country’s citizens, concentrating on judges, artists, musicians, dancers, and the most educated and productive in the land, is that the gap created in collective memory is severed and so profound that it’s almost impossible to reconstruct. The few survivors of Pol Pot labored long and hard to rebuild their tragically lost culture, in some cases going so far as having to explain to the citizens why the dance was so important to Khmer Culture.

We saw a banner advertising a traditional dance program at the theater in the National Museum complex and booked seats after a day of touring the Killing Fields. We’d seen a lot of Indonesian and Malaysian dance this season, usually as a welcome ceremony for us cruisers so we were curious to see Cambodian dance. The good news was that the center was just a block from our hotel.

The performance was preceded by a beautiful and inspiring film on the national effort to regain their cultural roots. Aging artists, musicians and dancers who had survived the genocide were identified and brought together with young aspiring performers to rebuild the generational links and pass on the traditional arts.

From the first movement of the newly minted dancers I was struck by how strangely familiar some of the poses were and then it hit me. We’d just just spent four days staring in awe at bas-relief warriors and dancers carved into the ancient sandstone walls of Angkor Wat doing much the same thing.

Most of the pieces featured the noble Khmer peasants harvesting rice, or planting rice, or eating rice.

These are the same peasants Pol Pot browbeat into becoming the fearsome heartless murderers of the Khmer Rouge. Hard to understand but there it is. These are the people that brought us the Killing Fields but after the Vietnamese overthrew the Khmer Rouge, other than a few leaders, there was very little revenge killing. Even Pol Pot was left to his own devises, dying of old age in a little town up in the mountains, kind of a “we’ll leave you alone if you leave us alone arrangement.”

Seeing the bright, enthusiastic faces of these young performers erased much of the horror we learned about earlier in the day and we joined them in celebrating the human spirit.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Winging it in Phnom Penh

Mr Man tuktuked us to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight to Phnom Penh. Two hours to check in for a 45 minute flight. Legend has it that a woman named Penh found four images of the Buddha on the shores of the Mekong River and built a temple on the tallest hill in the area in which to keep them. The city that grew up around the hill became known as Phnom Penh or ‘Penhs Hill.’ The city sits at the confluence of four rivers: the Upper Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Sap, and the Bassac. The Khmers call it Chatomuk, or four faces.

We had only the sketchiest outline of a plan. It kind of read something like; get settled in, reconnoiter the colonial French quarter, check out a possible Mekong River cruise, meditation session for M, avoid the very graphic torture museum but find the Killing Fields memorial and hit the National Museum. We call it winging it. 

We found the Okay Boutique Hotel “with city view.”

It was okay but our view was not.

They eventually moved us to the ninth floor but couldn’t accommodate the extra two days we added just to make sure we were in compliance with the Malaysian “get lost” rules needed to renew our visas. 

We decided to hit the ground running this time so after a long exploratory walk we found ourselves in the French quarter at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia featuring large photojournalist pictures on the walls and unsurpassed views across the Sap and Mekong Rivers.

Here, and really everywhere, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and the horrors of genocide were just below the surface. If it can happen here to these peaceful, kind people it can happen anywhere.

Marce had once again found several highly rated vegetarian restaurants all within walking distance of our hotel but, in a major miracle, she found a tiny hole in the wall eatery serving superb authentic Ethiopian cuisine, a particular favorite of ours. 

Now about that city view. A move up to the ninth floor solved the view problem and that’s the Mekong River off in the distance. The Royal Palace is on the right. Definitely better.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gravity and tolerance 

Now I’m not the world’s most spiritual guy, but I get by. I confess that when I stepped through the intricately carved corner gatehouse at Angkor Wat I was …moved. I don’t think what’s left of my hair has lain down yet. As a statement of national pride and honor this is to Modern Cambodia as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, except that the Angkor site is substantially larger than all of modern Paris. One could go on and on but that’s not what you Dear Escapees came for is it? Today’s installment features a short story due to the fact that we’d noticed a path that led off into the forest and after some due diligence and prodigious research on Google Earth M. found several very old but smallish temples scattered in the woods.

We told Mr Man to have his tuktuk warmed up by 8:30 and we were going to the temples in the forest. Why, he asked? No one goes there. Marce showed him her red yarn blessing thingie around her wrist and he showed us his, which happened to also be red. I am Buddhist too, she said. He smiled and stepped down for first gear.


After Mr Man dropped us off in the forest we soon came upon a fairly modern small pagoda with a very large Buddha.

M stopped for a backup blessing but felt the man in orange was just phoning it in. No mention of a long life.


This guy was getting a serious blessing.

The Khmer architects actually didn’t know how to build an arch so they laid each stone with just a little overhang until they met at the middle. Gravity and close tolerances did the rest……..

¡

…until it didn’t. 

Turns out several centuries seems tolerable enough.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Leaving the land of Ringgits

Malaysia, and for that matter most of Southeast Asia, is famous for bureaucratic, mind numbing visa regulations and wouldn’t you know it, ours are winding down to a precious few days. To reset our 90-day Malaysian visas we have to leave the country and because we are close to the end of our stay we have to get lost for at least seven days before re-entering. 

Marce started the campaign with Vietnam as the goal. We soon found ourselves overwhelmed with possibilities and expanding projected budgets, worrisome with a refit of Escape Velocity staring us in the face. Turns out, Cambodia is just the ticket, specifically the temples of ancient, mysterious Angkor Wat.

Now, since leaving Cairns, Australia, I’ve been challenged with difficult money math as we made our way across Indonesia where 11,000 point something rupiah equals one USD. I found this impossible to deal with but, Marce said, If you move the decimal four places to the left you have an Aussie dollar and, feeling fat and sassy, 25 percent more buying power with the godalmighty USD! We could actually afford to live in this place. 

Malaysian ringgits are a four to one proposition which I find within my comfort level, but now I need to come to grips with the Cambodian riel which exchanges at 4100 something riel to one USD. The advantage here is that Cambodia really is based on the USD so just for fun you’ve got dual simultaneous currencies. It’s messy and it inflates prices but Cambodians smile and just make it work.

First roadblock is an overnight stay at the Kuala Lumpur airport which is quite expensive and based on only a six hour stay! I was rather hoping for eight hours of sleep. Marce found a workaround but KL’s airport is so large that they feel the need to charge you for a train ride to the terminal where your hotel is located. They don’t even call it a hotel, but rather a “private resting place.”

After the shiny pants KL airport, the dusty cab ride through the Cambodian countryside served notice that this is primarily an agricultural society, but as we approached Siem Reap which is as close to Angkor Wat as you can stay, the tuktuks, motos, and taxis started to stack up into serious stop-and -go traffic. Our driver found our hotel down a dusty alley and we hopped out and entered the serene environs of The Moon Residence and Spa.

By late afternoon we were carefully picking our way around dusty broken sidewalks and dodging tuktuks and motos, while trying to bear in mind that Cambodia was once French and they drive on the right…well if they feel like it. After a bit of careful walking we found ourselves in the middle of a thriving town with the beautiful Siem Reap River running through it.

Marce had marked a list of top shelf vegetarian restaurants on the map and our search for a likely candidate led us down a colorful alleyway filled with little shops and eateries representing most of the cuisines of the world. 

We ate amazing food while breathlessly excited by the prospect of tomorrow’s sunrise over Angkor Wat.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just don’t suck

We don’t always go on the official rally tours. I don’t know, how many endless Indonesian speeches can you listen to before you just don’t care anymore? Sultans, governors, village officials, we’ve watched them all drone on and on, but sometimes the organizers get it right. The bus tour of Kumai promised to be one of the good ones, and besides there’s usually some descent swag. The problem is that once they have you on the bus, you’re on for the whole day until the final speech.

At 9:00 am as I motor toward the official rally dock I can already see the usual madness. Dignitaries at the podium, outrageously colorful “authentic costumes”on the dancers and the band, event facilitators desperately trying to hold a constantly evolving situation together.

After a mercifully short welcoming we are herded toward a couple of nice buses, but I can’t help noticing the six motorcycle Polisi, faces covered, with M4 assault weapons hanging from a shoulder mount. Most Indonesian authorities have extremely colorful uniforms. These guys are head to toe in black. I’m thinking this is just a bus load of bum sailors, what the hell is going on here? Turns out Indo TV has been shooting footage of us and as improbable as it seems, we are a very popular segment most every night on television! The ministry of tourism has pulled out all the stops and that kind of explains all the drone shots and taped interviews we’ve done. I breathe a heavy sigh of relief in the knowledge that when the hail of bullets start, Marce, who begged off with a recurrence of back pain, will be safe back on Escape Velocity wondering what is he up to now?

Right now the well armed motorcycle gentlemen in black are motioning for the bus driver to park over there and personally I think we should just do as they say. Turns out the first thing you see is a traditional long house of the Dayaknese Tribe.

These folks are the people that gave us the term Bogeyman due to their remarkable fierceness.

But first a rice wine welcome.

Things are looking up and, fortified, Yours Truly gives the eight foot blow pipe a go, firmly striking the target, all the while remembering not to suck.

More dancing where the bogeyman finally shows up, and a little more rice wine.

Next up, our armed motorcade pulls up to Astana Mangkubumi which features this cute and colorful little prince and princess.

I’ve noticed that these palaces are kind of empty and have a lot of stuff that looks like the Dutch just left it behind. After the buffet lunch we walk down to the Tujuh Putri Water Castle which is better known as the Princess’s Pool and rumor has it that if you dare to rub this filthy water on your skin you will become beautiful. I pass.

I was pretty excited about this next location at the Rainbow Village and when our armed entourage drops us off at their pier we are swamped with requests for selfies with the locals.

We stumble right into the middle of a Refuse Fashion Contest for all ages. Kinda cute and very creative.

Unfortunately it starts to rain as we clamber aboard the local watercraft called a Tuck-Tuck, a one lung diesel, hand cranked, with a tiny propeller at the end of a long shaft that is mostly out of the water. No neutral, no reverse, no transmission, but kinda fun.

Scenes like something on the Nile overwhelm us as we chug by. The view from the river is a bit less painted rainbow, let’s call it just unpainted wood.

The gents in black motion our bus to the car park for the Yellow Palace where the gala dinner will take place. The Sultan is a no-show due to the romancing of his mistress over in Jakarta, which suits me fine, so Yours Truly needn’t change into long pants out of respect. Strange place this Yellow Palace. Once again a kind of empty museum but with a ballroom and grounds where we end up listening to speeches in Indonesian and watching traditional dance. I’m no judge but this show seemed a cut above. I even meet Biruté Galdikas, one of Leakey’s Angels who still runs the Leakey Camp we’d just visited.

It’s well past cruisers’ midnight as the well protected bus pulls into the official rally dock. On the way to Catnip I pick up several stranded cruisers who find they have no way back to their boats so we all pile in bringing to an official end, the official tour.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Still chasing waterfalls

At the Sinvay Internet Cafe of Tifu I’d heard about a tour to a waterfall about one hour boat ride down the coast. The next morning Marce begged off needing executive time and I confess that I was still a little foggy due to general passage fatigue as I clambered into our friends’ tiny dinghy for a ride to the town jetty. The usual chaos was in full swing.

“What time did they say?”

“8 am.”

“Have we changed time zones?”

“Always a possibility.”

“Maybe they meant 9 am, what time is it?”

“7:45.”

“Well, where are they?”

“They’re on island time, they’ll get here.”

And so they did. Soon we clambered aboard a couple of long narrow, but colorful, open air outboards and hobby horsed out of Tifu harbor.

It was quite rough and when we arrived at the beach there was a lot of conversation and serious faces as they planned where to drop their anchors and then backed up to the beach to disgorge all the yachties. The boats in the surf were like bucking Broncos in the hands of the crews, while we jumped off the transom into the water.

Locals were there to welcome us to their beach with drums and dance. This is only the second time yachties ever visited this waterfall. Pure jaw-dropping unspoiled magic. I expect there to be a resort here soon.

Predictably the conditions worsened during our stay and we were soaked with saltwater spray by the time we rounded the rocks back to Tifu harbor. This was one for the books.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized